May 03, 2017 | Randy Kish

When CX backfires: Amazon’s crazy PrimeNow customer journey


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Customer Journey

Amazon may be a leader in digital retail (with a founder who fully understands the value of Customer Experience measurement to boot), but not everything the company does reflects that. Take for instance its customer journey for PrimeNow, part of Amazon’s popular Prime subscription service that recently hit 80 million members.

I’d call myself a loyal Amazon Prime customer, especially for gift shopping. This past holiday, Prime offered a PrimeNow $5 credit at checkout if you agreed to a 3-5 day delivery timeframe instead of its default 2-day window. Since it was three weeks before Christmas, I accepted that offer five times. Awesome! I was highly satisfied since I received all items ordered on Prime before Christmas and had $25 to spend on PrimeNow! But that sentiment was temporary.

First of all, what is PrimeNow and where can I see my credits? Did I receive any notification or instructions?  No — to the point that I forgot about them until this week. When I checked my Prime account, there were no promotional credits. In fact, PrimeNow is actually a separate site, a newer Amazon service that offers both groceries and general merchandise with fast same-day delivery. There were no credits to my account on that site either.

When I called Amazon’s customer service, I was passed to a second agent from PrimeNow who shared that the credits had expired and in fact weren’t visible to customers on the site. They quickly recovered by adding $25 to my account and informed me that it’s applicable to purchases for the Amazon store only, and a minimum of $20 is required per order. The $25 promotion would automatically appear during checkout. So, I was off shopping.

What happened next was surprising.

Amazon PrimeNow error

A screenshot demonstrating the complicated, error-filled customer journey of Amazon’s PrimeNow service.

My basket totaled just under $25, so I wanted to add to my order before pressing “Place Order”.  But there’s no modify button, nor was there a cancel button — and why was my credit not showing? After a few clicks on delivery details, the credit finally appeared but the item quantities couldn’t be changed dynamically like at Amazon Prime checkout. Even the web browser’s “Back” arrow button didn’t help. So I caved and placed my order only to receive a “Prime is currently having issues, but all items are still in your cart” message. Going back to my cart, it was empty. Now I was confused.

Checking the order history, I can see that there was an order being processed but couldn’t click through to see details. So, once again, I called PrimeNow customer service, who confirmed the order was in process. Asking why there was no modify button, the agent shared “PrimeNow is much faster than Prime” — but before I hit the Place Order button? That would be blazing speed.  She shared that I should use the mobile app for better ordering features. (Ha! Talk about a broken experience.)

Why measuring the entire customer journey is important

The points of this story are two-fold. First, clarity of promotional credits and transparency to their location/use is critical. In my experience, I felt duped even though Amazon recovered — it took effort on my part to make that happen. Secondly, the expectations I had of PrimeNow site functionality were established by Prime. What I experienced was quite different. This impacted my experience, satisfaction, and likelihood to use or recommend the service. It also cost Amazon two calls to customer service.

Sure, this particular service was (is) complex. But we as consumers have high expectations, especially from Amazon. They’ve set a high bar for themselves, and the seamless execution of new services like PrimeNow should mirror Prime. In the end, my groceries were delivered just a few hours after ordering them. What a convoluted journey it took to make that happen.

Interested in learning more about why and how to measure digital contribution to see how it’s affecting the business overall? Read our latest ForeSee Experience Index: Digital Contribution, or contact a ForeSee representative.

Categories: Retail

About the Author

Randy Kish is a Customer Experience Specialist and Retail Innovation Advocate at ForeSee. He joined the company in 2011, bringing over 20 years of retail experience that started on the selling floor at Nordstrom. Randy crossed over to the software side of the retail industry in 1993 with a primary focus on store operations and retail analytics. A native San Diegan, Randy earned his BA in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and MBA in Finance from San Diego State University.

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